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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “Don’t Try to Walk before You Can Crawl” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/17/08)

TITLE: Lessons From John and Clara
By Julie Paulsen


Lessons from John and Clara

They were as different as a string bean and a zinnia! Grandpa Leech and Grandma Neave, two names that mean very little to most everyone, except me! These beloved grandparents did have one thing in common though, a love of gardening! Grandpa loved his flowers and Grandma loved her vegetables! Five city blocks separated my Grandparent’s homes, which was a nice summer’s walk for me as a child. That’s when I discovered the wonder and joy found in seeds, soil, hoes and funny hats! John and Clara’s love of watching things grow skipped the generation of their own children, my parents, and landed in me with full force! To this day there is nothing I like more in the summer than a Brandywine tomato sandwich with chives and small vases of freshly cut zinnias placed around the house! However, the love of gardening had to be rediscovered and nurtured all over again in me as an adult!

In 1971 I married the love of my life! 1972 we “grew” our first daughter, 1973 our second daughter and 1974 our third daughter! 1979 came along and it was time to buy our first house! By now I had rediscovered the love of watching things grow in the form of children, and with the purchase of our first home I began imagining the rich, lush, beautiful garden that would be so bountiful we could share with everyone! I dreamed it would encourage the wonder of gardening in my children, ensuring it would be passed on to the next generation! Before we even signed the legal papers I had subscribed to gardening magazines and seed catalogues! In fact, they arrived at the new address before we moved in April!

The garden plot was picked, the soil was tilled, and the seeds were planted, watered and tended to, then the long summer wait! That first garden was a big flop! We had bugs, dry rocky soil, low yield, big fat tomato worms that ate whole tomato plants! My girls didn’t like picking beans and we didn’t produce even one perfect tomato to share with anyone! I was discouraged at my first attempt at something my grandparents made look so easy!

That fall and winter were spent researching my dilemma! By reading many books and magazines on gardening I discovered what my grandparents always knew…gardening is all about the soil! That year I cleaned out all the rocks and debris, amended the soil with duck doo and kitchen garbage, and then to keep the weeds from stealing nutrients from the next crop of plants, we spread a heavy mulch of grass clippings, compliments of our yard.

The next spring’s planting, our second garden, was lovingly planted with big hopes and dreams! I planted marigolds around the edge of the garden to keep out bugs and planted all the veggies inside the orange and yellow border. It was beautiful; my second garden was lovely, if a garden can be lovely! It worked! All the planning and preparation worked! That summer we had a beautiful, lush, high yielding garden, which produced every year until we moved from that first humble home. I remember taking brown paper lunch sacks full of tomatoes to people at church…enough to share!

I still drive by that first garden now and then; in fact, I just drove by with two of my daughters as we were out celebrating my last birthday in November…the garden area was still there! Covered with snow!

Being exposed to gardening by loving grandparents didn’t make me an expert gardener! What it did was instill in me a love of God’s creation and watching things grow! I haven’t had a garden yet that didn’t include both string beans and zinnias! Thanks for the lessons John and Clara!

Isaiah 32:17 (New International Version) The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Norma-Anne Hough01/24/08
What a lovely testimony to your grandparents. My parents were both keen gardeners. My dad grew the most amazing azaleas. We lived out of town and every August people would come out from town to see his garden. To this day I grow azaleas in memory of both my parents.
Joy Faire Stewart01/24/08
I enjoyed the writing style and shared memories.
Lynn Jacky 01/26/08
I liked your story. Good writing.
Yvonne Blake 01/26/08
Wonderful! I loved your first line...
"They were as different as a string bean and a zinnia!"
...and all the other references to gardening.(including the duck doo)
Good analogy and memories!
Great job...keep writing.